Step…stop…wait. Step…stop…wait. Step…stop…wait.
The single-file procession to board the plane extended from the gate door all the way to our seats. Upon clearing the door, we were greeted by the flight attendant who welcomed each passenger as if in a trance. Her smile appeared affixed permanently to her face. She paused the “welcome…good morning” chant just long enough to retrieve the seat belt extension that I requested.
That’s right…seat belt extension. Airplane seats and restraints are sized for the thinner side of our society. Before learning about the extension, I struggled to secure the belt around my abdomen and then would be miserable for the duration of the flight. One observant flight attendant noticed this a few years ago and offered relief. Since then, I don’t hesitate to request an extension. But usually my request is discrete. Quietly requested so the people around me couldn’t hear. I was ashamed that I needed the added belt to contain my girth. I felt as if I were being judged and was embarrassed. But not on this flight. This time I spoke in my normal tone. This time I didn’t attempt to hide the extension. I have to admit that I’m still not happy about the added weight from my chemo treatments. But I no longer torture myself (mentally) about it. Thanks to the amazing online body image class I attended earlier this year (titled “More to Love”), I am comfortable in my skin. Check it out if you can relate and want to change your life.
Taxi to the tarmac.
The wails of an unhappy child break through the silence of the cabin. The intensity of the cries peak and wane as the child’s mother attempts to provide comfort.
Cleared for take-off.
The cries were drowned out momentarily by the roar of engines preparing for take-off. Screams erupted as the plane started to accelerate and continued until we leveled out at 30,000 feet. My heart went out to them. It was obvious the child was terrified of the experience. And there’s no way to explain air travel to someone so young.
Close your eyes…relax.
I didn’t get much sleep the previous night and was looking forward to a brief nap. I figured that since there was no beverage or food service during the flight, I would be able to sleep. Boy was I wrong. Within minutes of leaving the ground, a strong odor attacked my nose. A full-on assault from somewhere behind row 19. It wasn’t a particularly unpleasant scent. If it weren’t so strong, it could be considered a pleasant fragrance. But the aroma was SO intense…SO heavy…I could taste it. There was nothing I could do to wash the smell out of my mouth. I tried breathing through the sleeve of my shirt. Slight improvement but the taste was still there. I couldn’t get away from it. I was trapped. My husband reminded me of a notice we saw regularly at the cancer treatment center. The sign requested that people avoid wearing fragrances in the building. Strong scents intensify the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy. If I were still undergoing treatment, one whiff of this scent would have deposited my breakfast on my feet.
DA.DA.DA..DAAAA. Blip…Blip…Blip… DA.DA.DA..DAAAA. It wasn’t long before another obstacle emerged in my quest for sleep. Someone was playing a video game…very successfully. The DA.DA.DA..DAAAA was like a trumpet announcing the passing to the next stage of the game. I found myself wondering whether the game was being played on a cell phone. Could ear plugs be used for the device? How long will this go on before the game is silenced?
With sleep alluding me, I pondered the question of common courtesy. It seems like a sense of entitlement has pervaded our current society. I wondered whether the fragrance and video game scenarios fit into this equation. Instead of thinking only of themselves, a person should consider their impact to others in such a confined, enclosed space. If one considers the larger good, common courtesy would lead them to postpone application of the fragrance. I would assume that common courtesy would also dictate that the video game be played with earphones or the volume turned off or not played at all. To take this concept further, let me quote the death scene exchange between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (and show my inner geek). I ask you, shouldn’t the “…needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one” in an airplane?